“Tonight I am here to say that I am not finished yet. Within me I still have the same fire and enthusiasm to work to make the Virgin Islands an even greater Territory,” Minister for Education and Culture, and At Large Candidate for the National Democratic Party (NDP), Hon. Myron Walwyn announced.
Standing before a packed Sir Olva Georges Plaza, Hon. Walwyn and the other NDP At Large Candidates, Hon. Ronnie Skelton, Hon. Archibald Christian, and Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith the energetic incumbent gave a summary of the work they did in last term to move the Territory forward and asked for another term to continue.
In a brief description of the term, Hon. Walwyn told the gathering that the NDP Government worked to secure the future of the Virgin Islands for those that will come after. “As Virgin Islanders in this moment, during this election cycle, we stand on the edge of opportunity. That opportunity to shape the society in which we want to live is right within our grasp. Will we soar to be the land that previous generations worked towards, knowing fully well that they might not live to be part of this great land, yet they endured because they knew they were paving the way for you and me? Or will we choose to go back to the valleys of governance where unaccountability, poor planning and reckless spending was the order of the day?”
“This election is not about whether you the voters of the Virgin Islands like Myron Walwyn, the NDP or even the VIP. This election is about choosing a path for the Virgin Islands that will have effects on our country today and the effects it will have on the life and opportunities for any five year old child in the Virgin Islands and perhaps even their children,” he announced.
In getting to the crux of his Party’s plan for the Territory, Hon. Walwyn declared: “Our vision for the Virgin Islands is radically different from any articulated vision of any other party. We see a Virgin Islands where our people are adequately prepared to seize opportunities at home and abroad, but the vision of others for our people remains one of continued reliance on petty contracts and favours.”
In making comparison between the NDP and other political parties, Hon. Walwyn stated: “We offer solutions to our pressing problems, and they offer scare tactics, deceptive and irresponsible politics that can only damage our society locally and even internationally. We offer leadership to help shape the Virgin Islands into a modern, open, fair and prosperous society. A society that our forefathers were working towards; but how will we get to that vision for the Virgin Islands? By our actions, this National Democratic Party team believes that to get to the new Virgin Islands, we must concentrate on being a country of citizens committed to building a nation.”
The At Large Candidate explained that building a nation requires a fierce and strategic education and youth development policy, law and order, social cohesion, development of new industries, and a strong economy. “At the very core of this, nation building speaks to the hopes and aspirations of the very people we serve,” he added.
In recapping his term as Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Walwyn stated that over the past three and half years, the Territory’s education quality improvement strategy has sought to personally impact the life and choices of the Territory’s youth. “We realized that in order for us to shape a modern Virgin Islands, our education system must be the bedrock for those changes…Our vision for education is congruent to the OECS Education Sector Strategy. That vision being that all citizens, at every stage of their learning journey, from early years to adulthood are able to reach their full potential and be successful in life, at work and in the community.”
Over the last three years, Hon. Walwyn said that the Territory has moved away from the routine of putting our children into a system because that is where they needed to be from 8 am to 3 p.m. during the week, to creating a system that inspires excellence and one that aptly meets the economic needs of this country.
“We have stopped solely concentrating on offering our students Primary 5 and High School certificates, and have started to look at the quality of the students we produce and their potential impact on our society.”
The Education Minister said that all must realize that education is not a static concept, but rather a dynamic commitment. “We must continue to look at our plans and revise our policies to ensure that the education we offer, truly meets the needs of our students and our economy. That is why we have added an additional year to our secondary education system,” Hon. Walwyn said.
“This additional year also allows our 10th Grade students to start O Level (CXC) subjects and our 12th Grade students to start A Level (CXC) subjects. As early as this coming school-year, students will have the opportunity to take CAPE (A Level) Subjects to get an early start towards a post secondary qualification, improving the bridge between secondary school and tertiary education,” Hon. Walwyn explained.
He noted that CAPE subjects will be completed in the first year of students’ time at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. “This will also significantly reduce our students time once at HLSCC. Subjects that will be available are – Entrepreneurship, Integrated Science, Biology, Additional Math, Caribbean Studies, Communications Studies, and Information Technology. We anticipate that these subjects will help students prepare for their participation in current skills needed in the country, as well as usher in new industries for the Territory,” Hon. Walwyn further stated.
The Minister also announced that the first 12th Grade graduates will be the most qualified secondary school graduates to ever leave secondary school in the history of the Virgin Islands. He said that not only will these graduates have their high school diplomas, CXC qualifications, O Levels and A Levels modules that they will complete at HLSCC.